Many New Zealand forests are sprinkled with white at this time of the year. The indigenous Clematis are flowering, and particularly striking with its large white flowers is Clematis paniculata (puawhananga, white clematis). There is a plant of Clematis paniculata flowering wonderfully at present in Te Papa’s Bush City, atRead more

I first got into studying biodiversity because I wanted New Zealand’s plants and animals to be looked after better.  New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity is not in great shape. A lot of my research at Te Papa – describing new species, distinguishing and mapping different species, and determining how populations and speciesRead more

I’m lucky to have escaped the end of the New Zealand winter with a work trip to Fiji. This was as part of a Conservation International-funded, international expedition. The trip was led by Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, with local logistics coordinated by Marika Tuiwawa and Alivereti NaikatiniRead more

Alongside the plants brought from the tropical Pacific, it is thought that Māori cultivated at least a handful of New Zealand plant species. Massey University’s Lara Shepherd is investigating several such plants: karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus), rengarenga (Arthropodium cirratum), and whau (Entelea arborescens). Karaka in Te Papa’s Bush City. Karaka, rengarenga, andRead more

Here are two striking and (I think) attractive Blechnum hard ferns. Nigrum is Latin for black.  Colenso’s hard fern is named after William Colenso – printer, missionary, politician, and naturalist – altogether a very extraordinary person.  Biography of William Colenso.  The “hard” part of the name comes, I presume, fromRead more

We have just described a new species of Tmesipteris fork fern. Fork ferns are odd looking and only distantly related to other ferns. We now recognise five species in New Zealand. There are only about 15 species around the world, with Australasia their strong-hold. The new species has been namedRead more

Measuring leaf width (in mm) of a Te Papa specimen of Plantago spathulata with a digital calipers. Photo © Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

As a plant taxonomist, most of my work involves determining how many species are in a particular genus of flowering plants, how they are related to one another, and what the correct scientific names for those species are. To do this, I gather and analyze data from a number ofRead more